I’m glad Michael Miner enjoys his vacations in Austria, but I beg to differ with him on the subject of fluff as a distraction [Hot Type, May 11]. I haven’t read any of [Victor Davis] Hanson’s articles, and I do agree that the “fluff” isn’t to be blamed, but despite the overwhelming power of “new wave papers” such as the Red Eye to merely be modern-day substitutes for the Sun-Times or Tribune, I like to think that times HAVE changed and that even people in their 20s DO have a choice.

Blame the distractions on the military-industrial-media complex. We are getting stupider, and yes, we “Americans” are less likely to “shoulder responsibility.” The essential difference between “then” and “now” is high technology such as cellular phones and iPods which encourage people to isolate themselves still further within their own spheres.

I don’t even touch the Red Eye; I find only one use for it besides possibly wrapping dishes in it. However I observe people as they devour it on the train or wherever. There are those who absently thumb through the paper and those who just want it for the Sudoku puzzle, but there are also those who are, at least for one day’s span, going to remember all the gossip, scandal, “jokes,” and “news” the Red Eye provides them with. They will surely spend at least part of their day discussing Imus, Anna Nicole, R. Kelly, and whoever else is being focused on, with their friends on cell phones, with coworkers on the coffee breaks, and later on with whomever at whatever bar or home.

This is obvious and everybody knows it, whether they prefer to “ignore” it or be a big part of it. Few are concerned that so many are dying in Iraq every day, but it’s not their fault. The powers that be are determined to keep them uninterested. It’s the old maxim about sheep and crap.

Bob Rashkow